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Review for India Development and Relief Fund Inc, N Bethesda, MD, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Few other charities have done better than India Development and Relief

Fund (IDRF) for the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of the Society

in India, tribals in particular, irrespective of the caste, creed and religion. We

have known Sarla and Vinod Prakash for over half a century: we were taken

aback when he decided to give up his high profile job at the World Bank, and

both plunged themselves into founding IDRF. We also followed the trials and

tribulations that IDRF overcame over the past quarter of a century.

We were fortunate to visit some of IDRF’s development projects and would

like to recall our impressions.

The IDRF-funded high school near Delhi is educating 350 underprivileged

children, most of them the first in their families to go school. In spite of their

poor backgrounds, they competed with the best schools in Delhi and achieved

excellent academic results. When we visited, the computer lab was filled with

bright faced youngsters. The dedication of the teachers was exemplary. At the

lunch break, simple vegetarian food was served to the children and staff sitting

cross-legged on the ground.

Our visit to Gwalior was also educational. We saw a tribal boys’ hostel and a

local fundraising event to build a tribal girls’ hostel. Two events touched our

heart at this event: One was the offer by two people of Indian origin, who were

visiting from Africa, to match the funds raised. Second was the offer of Rs.

100,000 from students at the local industrial institute. They had raised half the

amount from their peers and then begged their Principal for the other half.

IDRF provided critical support to the primary school in our ancestral village. Of

the 250 students enrolled at the school, 30-40% were Muslims. It is the top-
rated primary school in the village of 18 schools, with English medium and new

initiatives. It emphasizes ethics and close contacts with children’s families. It

has a computer lab, a rarity for a primary school. The cultural performances by

the children were heart-warming. We trust these children will make excellent

citizens when they grow up.

IDRF supported the Arpana’s Health & Women’s Empowerment Programme

in Karnal, Haryana. This ashram has a very wide reach in surrounding rural and

illiterate communities. We were impressed by the organisation and dedication

of the field workers.

IDRF helped sponsor the Chitrakoot Project. Founded by the late Nanaji

Deshmukh, is a model project for the overall social development of villages. It

is one of the most internationally-recognised programmes. Surprisingly many

highly-qualified people of Indian origin chose work here rather than taking

high-paying jobs overseas.

We realise that we only saw a small slice of IDRF’s work; over the years it has

raised millions of dollars for development and disaster relief. We pray that

India – our Bharat Mata - has some more dedicated individuals like Vinod and

organisations like IDRF.

New Delhi October 27, 2013

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